Weird year in review

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2017, file photo, Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, looks on as he stands on he floor of the Utah House of Representatives at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Utah's hospitality industry is urging Gov. Gary Herbert to veto a bill giving Utah the strictest DUI threshold in the country, lowering the blood alcohol limit to .05 percent, down from .08 percent. Thurston, says he doesn't think it will hurt tourism but it would make people think twice about drinking and driving. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Journalists love lists. Especially in late December.

In fact, the number of lists generated by the media is inversely proportional to the number of days left in any given year — the fewer days remaining, the more lists we produce.

I’d planned on presenting the “Top 10 Weirdest Stuff I Wrote About This Year,” but there was one problem: I could only come up with nine. And then, like an answer to a prayer for “moisture,” Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, stepped up to the plate and hit one clear out of the ballpark of sanity.

By the way, can someone please explain why we even bother to tack on that “R-for-Republican” designation after the names of our state lawmakers? Fun fact: With the exception of those representing Salt Lake City, everyone else in the Utah Legislature is Republican. In other words, the only reason someone outside SLC would have a “D” after their name is if it stood for “deceased.” Or possibly “doesn’t exist.”

Anyway, Thurston says he wants to change the law to allow people to fire a gun in self-defense even if their blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit.

Current law — and common sense — says if you’re too drunk to drive, you’re too drunk to discharge a firearm. But Thurston insists that even those who’ve been drinking ought to be able to defend themselves.

Against the pink elephants.

And so, clocking in at No. 10 on the list of Top Ten Weirdest Stuff I Wrote About This Year is the so-called “Loaded in More Ways Than One” bill — clearly thought up by someone whose BAC blew at least a point-oh-eight.

As for the remaining items on our list:

No. 9 — In April, the State of Arkansas attempted to set a modern record for dispatching death-row inmates, planning a staggering eight executions in just 11 days. Why the rush? Because the state’s supply of midazolam, used in lethal injections, was about to hit its “best-when-used-by” date. And as any poison control center dispatcher can tell you, using drugs past their expiration date can cause sickness or even death.

RELATED: Arkansas 'April Execution Marathon' raises all sorts of questions

No. 8 — In 2017, Utahns were shocked to learn of Wellsville’s annual “Sham Battle.” For 100 years, culturally sensitive residents have held a mock cowboys-and-indians fight between the good guys (Mormon settlers) and the bad guys (savage indians) — complete with white re-enactors in “redface.” Said one longtime participant: “We were poor, so my grandma used to put shoe polish on my face and then threw me out there on the field.”

RELATED: Fate of Utah event with redface Native American portrayal handed to committee

No. 7 — Public education had a bad year. You had Weber High School cheerleaders exposed for repeatedly shouting the n-word in a video. Woods Cross High students brandishing a Donald Trump cutout and chanting “Build that wall!” Farmington High parents complaining the school’s new mascot sounded too much like the word “penis.” And just this past week saw the principal at a Logan elementary school shredding postcards of famous works of art because some parents called them “pornography.”

RELATED: Those seeking high school mascot change acting like kids

No. 6 — Criminals struggled this year, too. In February, a woman was arrested after robbing a bank without even leaving her getaway vehicle. She used the drive-thru window, passing the robbery note through the pneumatic tube delivery system. Then, two months later, a woman attempted a string of bank robberies in her pajama bottoms. Not only does crime not pay, it’s also committed by extremely lazy people and  sloppy dressers.

RELATED: C'mon, hardened felons. Can we at least take a little pride in our appearance?

No. 5 — Gordon Hayward became the latest NBA star to announce he didn’t want to play in Utah. Over the years, loads of athletes have turned down loads of money to play for the Jazz, including Derek Harper, who infamously said: “There was a Utah deal, but you go live in Utah. Nothing against Utah or their team, but I don’t want to live there.”

RELATED: It's OK, Utah Jazz fans: Take Gordon Hayward's leaving personally

No. 4 — It was, quite literally, the most jaw-droppingly bad excuse in the history of bad excuses. In late 2016, a woman suffered fatal injuries while in custody at the Davis County Jail and later died at the hospital. An investigation, made public this spring, found that jail staff destroyed all potential evidence in the incident. Then, when asked, one jail deputy insisted it shouldn’t be considered an in-custody death because — wait for it — “She was breathing when she left.”

RELATED: Tainted evidence in Heather Miller's death at Davis County Jail is inexcusable

No. 3 — Utah’s crazy liquor laws got crazier last May when the state began requiring restaurants to post signs reading “This premise is licensed as a restaurant. Not a bar.” Likewise, bars have to post: “This premise is licensed as a bar. Not a restaurant.” Why?

RELATED: Law requiring signs on restaurants, bars might be worst ever

No. 2 — The Mormon Church-owned Brigham Young University began selling caffeinated soft drinks on campus, ending a prohibition that had stood since the 1950s. Mark your calendars, folks: Sept. 21, 2017 — the day we’ve now officially seen everything.

RELATED: Caffeinated drinks at BYU? We all know what that leads to — same-sex marriage

And finally …

No. 1 — A new business called Social Axe Throwing opened in downtown Ogden, and it’s exactly as advertised — a social activity involving axes thrown at targets. Fans say it’s like darts. On steroids.

RELATED: Ogden’s Social Axe Throwing on the cutting edge of business

What’s more, my sources tell me a certain Utah County lawmaker is preparing legislation to make it legal to throw such razor-sharp implements while intoxicated.

Because, you know, how hard can it be to throw an axe? Or shoot a gun?

Or, drive a car?

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at

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